Weekend Review - Week 3

by SumerSports|September 25, 2023

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Welcome back to another edition of the SumerSports Weekend Review!

Every Monday, we will have a full recap of the weekend games including a postgame excitement index, game reviews, the top performers of the week at Quarterback, Wide Receiver, and Running Back, plus updated playoff probabilities.

Be sure to check out the SumerSports podcast feed, follow us on Twitter @SumerSports, and sign up for the newsletter for more content like this.

Excitement Index

Based on win probability swings, scoring, and other factors, we will have a postgame excitement index for each game of the NFL season. Here are Week 3’s excitement scores:

The most exciting game on Sunday was Chargers-Vikings, as we expected in the Weekend Preview. Both of these teams have played some of the most exciting games so far this season and that continued this week.

The Colts also played a very exciting game as they took Baltimore into overtime on the road with four scoreless possessions in overtime before Indianapolis ultimately kicked a game winning field goal.

Another notable team was the Packers entering the 4th quarter down 17-0 and mounting a giant comeback where they had the foresight to go for 2 with the score at 17-9 to make it 17-11 and then scored the go ahead touchdown to win 18-17.

Teams that won stress free were the Chiefs putting up 41 points on the Bears, the Dolphins putting up 70 points on the Broncos, the Bills defense dominating the Commanders, and the Browns putting together another superior defensive performance. 

It should be noted there is no factor in the excitement index model for guest stars appearing on the broadcast or else Bears-Chiefs would be higher.

Notable Games of the Week

Let’s dive into some of the games of the week that are determined based on a combination of excitement, notability, and other factors.

Los Angeles Chargers (28) @ Minnesota Vikings (24)

Vikings-Chargers was projected to be the best game of Sunday and it exceeded expectations. The story of the game was the Chargers passing offense on the back of Justin Herbert. The Chargers had a +18.5% pass rate over expected (99th percentile) and passing that much was justified as they had a 0.42 EPA/dropback (89th percentile). Keenan Allen caught 18 passes for 215 of Herbert’s 405 passing yards. Despite a 1st percentile EPA/rush and an average late down success rate, the Chargers were so good on early downs and on hitting explosives they were able to put up 28 points.

Entering this week, the Vikings had the biggest gap in the league between their pass and rush efficiency yet we didn’t see that type of high end pass offense in this game. The Vikings had a 65th percentile success rate but a 48th percentile EPA/play meaning they were staying ahead of pace on a play-by-play perspective but had some costly negative plays. A T.J. Hockenson fumble and a Kirk Cousins tipped interception late contributed to them having a 12.8% negative play rate (25th percentile).

Denver Broncos (20) @ Miami Dolphins (70)

Usually the biggest blowout of the day won’t be recapped in the Weekend Review, but the historic performance by the Miami Dolphins offense has to be mentioned. The Dolphins had a 100th percentile EPA/play and 100th percentile success rate. It was the best regular season performance of any offense since 2018. The Dolphins were able to score 70 points through a myriad of ways including through the air with Tua Tagovailoa to Tyreek Hill and on the ground with Raheem Mostert and rookie Devon Achane. Despite missing Jaylen Waddle, they didn’t miss a beat and continue to lap the league in offensive efficiency this season.

The Broncos offense wasn’t going to compete with what the Dolphins were doing on offense either but didn’t have a great showing themselves. They had a 18.6% negative play rate (3rd percentile) as rookie Marvin Mims was a rare bright spot as the Broncos start 0-3.

Dallas Cowboys (16) @ Arizona Cardinals (28)

In the upset of the season so far, the Cardinals were 11.5 point underdogs and not only ended up winning outright, but won by 12 points. The Cowboys defense had ranked 2nd in EPA/play so far this season, but the Cardinals were able to do whatever they wanted on offense with a 0.22 EPA/play (86th percentile) and a 54.7% success rate (92nd percentile). The Cardinals were particularly dominant when running the ball and converted on early downs to decrease the variance of playing as an underdog.

After starting the season hot, Dak Prescott and the Cowboys pass game took a step back today as the connection with CeeDee Lamb only produced 53 yards and he threw his first interception of the season. The Cowboys relied a lot on a run game that was working with a -7% pass rate over expected and a 91st percentile EPA/rush but didn’t get enough out of their pass game to compete with the points the Cardinals put up.

Pittsburgh Steelers (23) @ Las Vegas Raiders (18)

As Pittsburgh has become accustomed to under Mike Tomlin, the Steelers went on the road as underdogs and grinded out a win. The Steelers weren’t particularly impressive on offense, largely due to their run game, but saw a bounce back from their pass game with Kenny Pickett having 10.5 total EPA including 4 receptions for both George Pickens and Allen Robinson plus Calvin Austin and Pat Freiermuth catching touchdowns of their own.

Despite a 20 target, 13 reception, 172 yard, and 2 touchdown performance from Davante Adams, two costly interceptions from Jimmy Garoppolo muted the offensive performance for the Raiders with a 17.6% negative play rate (4th percentile). They had a 29th percentile EPA/pass and a 28th percentile EPA/rush as they had trouble moving the ball on the ground and through the air.

Top Performers of the Week

Using total EPA to determine the best performances, below are the top performers from Week 3.

Quarterbacks

For the 2nd time this season, Tua Tagovailoa leads all quarterbacks in terms of total EPA generated in a week. Despite not even playing in the 4th quarter, he completed 23 of his 26 passes for 309 yards and had a 0.98 EPA/play, which lapped the field on Sunday. Deshaun Watson saw a major bounce back after his Monday night performance with 22.2 total EPA. Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert also played quarterback at a very high level in Week 3 with Herbert completing 40 of his 47 passes for 405 yards.

Rushers

It should come as no surprise to see both Dolphins running backs show up on top of the total EPA rushing board as rookie Devon Achane and Raheem Mostert ran for over 280 yards combined. Kenneth Walker had another good running day with some explosive runs. Tony Pollard found some of the efficiency we’re used to seeing from him against the Cardinals with 5.3 yards per carry.

Pass Catchers

With a 41.7% target share, Keenan Allen led all receiving options in total EPA when targeted, catching 18 of his 20 targets. After having Nico Collins 1st last week, the Texans get Tank Dell 2nd this week as their pass offense continues to evolve. Adam Thielen turned back the clock to have a great performance in Seattle. Travis Kelce is the lone tight end on the list as he made headlines on Sunday.

Updated Playoff Probability Graph

The simulation above was run before Monday Night Football and thus teams that will play on Monday only show how their chances changed based on other results around the league.

There was no bigger riser or faller than the Jacksonville Jaguars dropping from a 60% chance to make the playoffs to a 40% chance. Not only are the Jaguars 1-2, but they have lost two AFC games already as the Colts, Jaguars, and Titans all sit at a 30-50% chance of making the playoffs. The Ravens also saw their postseason chances drop from an overtime loss to the Colts as they haven’t separated from the AFC North.

The biggest riser of the weekend was the Colts getting a 16% increase in chance to make the playoffs. The Steelers and Lions also rose 10% each. While the Dolphins were expected to win the game against the Broncos, it was the dominance in which they won that boosted their playoff probability odds by 7%.

Overtime

That is all for the SumerSports Weekend Review. It was a great week of football that gave us a lot of interesting data points to look over as we start to get ready for the next set of games. As always, be sure to check out stats on SumerSports.com, articles at The Zone, the SumerSports podcast feed, and follow us on Twitter @SumerSports to dive even deeper for the rest of this season.

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